For over 40 years, the BMW 3 Series has been the car that best demonstrated BMW’s long-running slogan, “the Ultimate Driving Machine.” In the 2018 BMW 3 Series sedan, the legend continues unabated albeit in a larger, more luxurious and more powerful version. The 3 Series model range includes a plug-in hybrid, sporty wagon, versatile hatchback and high-performance M3 sedan.
You'll Like The 2018 BMW 3 Series If...
If you’re seeking a midsize-performance sedan with an unquestioned reputation for performance, quality, luxury and safety, the 2018 3 Series from BMW checks all the right boxes. The Gran Turismo hatchback and 3 Series Sport Wagon offer impressive versatility, while the plug-in hybrid and diesel models deliver superior fuel economy.
You May Not Like The 2018 BMW 3 Series If...
The 2018 BMW 3 Series comes at price, especially when adding optional equipment often found standard on its competitors. The Cadillac ATS is an impressive performer in its own right, as is the Infiniti Q50. Even the new Jaguar XE is distinct enough to lure away potential BMW buyers.
The BMW 3 Series for 2018 receives a new touch-screen display that works in conjunction with the iDrive controller. Also new is a standard rearview monitor and LED headlights. On 320i models, LED fog lights replace traditional fog lights.
BMW interiors are never overly ornate and the interior of the BMW 3 Series is simple, elegant and minimalistic in design. It’s also beautifully assembled with tight fits and upscale materials. Seat comfort is exceptional as is the driving position. The gauges are clear and concise. The center controls are angled toward the driver, putting them in easy reach. The sedans have acceptable legroom in the second row, and it's downright impressive in the larger 3 Series Gran Turismo. The Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models offer sizable cargo-hauling advantages over sedan-only rivals like the Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Class.
This is simply one of the most attractive cars on the road. With short overhangs and a low, wide stance, BMW’s 3 Series for 2018 just looks athletic. It looks like it’s fun to drive. It’s a completely modern design, but there are enough links to previous generations, including the signature twin-kidney grille, that even casual observers know they're looking at a BMW. The more rotund Gran Turismo is an acquired taste, while the Sports Wagon is universally admired, and the bulging, scooped and flared skin of the macho M3 hints at the potency below its domed hood.
Above every other aspect, the 2018 BMW 3 Series sedan, hatchback and wagon place an emphasis on driving pleasure. It’s been the brand’s calling card for nearly four decades and neither time nor technology has gotten in the way. Speed and agility are standard on every model, and even the base 320i with only 180 horsepower can hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. Similar performance can be found in the 328d diesel, which affords the added benefit of a 40-mpg highway rating. Moving to the 248-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine in the 330i brings what we think is the best combination of performance and price, while the 320-horsepower 340i delivers V8-like power and growl. For those seeking the elusive M3, it’s a track-ready terror whose dual-clutch automatic doesn’t quite live up to the car’s promise. Go with the manual.
The least expensive 3 Series is the 320i sedan with a manual transmission, its Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $36,000, with 6-cylinder 340i variants beginning just under $50,000. The high-performance BMW M3 begins over $65,000. Wagon and Gran Turismo hatchbacks start in the mid-$40,000 range and the plug-in hybrid 330e starts around $46,500. All-wheel drive is available on most models and adds about $2,000. At these levels most 3 Series models are in line with small-luxury-sedan rivals like the Lexus IS, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti Q50 and Jaguar XE. For comparison values, check out the Acura TLX, while the Volvo S60 comes with impressive safety features for less money. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area are paying for their 3 Series. The 3 Series has typically enjoyed good but not class-leading resale value.
At its most basic, 320i models come with BMW's faux-leather upholstery (SensaTec), manually adjustable front seats, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, a 9-speaker audio system with a 6.5-inch LCD display, USB port, Bluetooth music streaming and HD Radio. Safety features standard on every 2018 BMW 3 Series include eight airbags, active head restraints to help reduce the severity of whiplash injuries, and impact sensors that unlock the doors, activate the hazard lights, and shut down electrical systems after a collision. New BMWs also include four years/50,000 miles of no-cost scheduled maintenance and four years/unlimited miles of roadside assistance.
Options on the 2018 3 Series are extensive and pricey. However, many are worth the investment, including the Surround View camera, a hands-free power trunklid that opens by waving your foot under the bumper, navigation, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control. The sport seats, aerodynamic enhancements, suspension tuning, and lightweight wheels of the M Sport Package (standard on the 340i) help bridge the performance gap between lesser models and the fire-breathing M3. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on many models in lieu of rear-wheel drive (RWD), although not on the M3, and is standard on the Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo.
WAGON, HATCH VARIANTS
While the most recognizable 2018 3 Series is the sedan, BMW also offers a versatile hatchback called the Gran Turismo and a sporty all-wheel-drive Sports Wagon. Both models offer a more versatile cargo area without compromising 3 Series ride and handling.
While there are many 2.0-liter turbocharged engines in the world, none is quite as smooth, refined or powerful as the engine found in BMW’s 2018 3 Series. The 248-horsepower engine is capable of propelling the 3 Series to 60 mph in under six seconds, yet achieves a respectable 34-mpg highway.
Under the Hood
The 2018 BMW 3 Series lineup offers three 4-cylinder turbocharged engines: a 2.0-liter in the 320i, a more powerful version in the 330i, and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Then there’s the new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 in 340i models, and the twin-turbo version in the M3, which makes 425 horsepower. Most models can be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic. The M3 comes with the manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. New last year was the 330e plug-in hybrid, which pairs an electric motor and a turbocharged 4-cylinder for 25 miles on battery power alone or total range of 373 miles. Most 3 Series models come with a fuel-saving stop/start feature. Unfortunately it shudders when the engine restarts and thankfully can be deactivated.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (320i)
180 horsepower @ 5,000-6,250 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/35 mpg (RWD manual), 24/35 mpg (RWD automatic), 23/34 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (330i)
248 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/32 mpg (RWD manual), 24/34 mpg (RWD automatic), 23/33 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 (328d, 328d xDrive Sports Wagon)
180 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 mpg (RWD), 30/40 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (330i xDrive Gran Turismo, 330i xDrive Sports Wagon)
248 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (340i xDrive Gran Turismo)
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (340i sedan)
320 horsepower @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
330 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/29 mpg (RWD manual), 21/32 mpg (RWD automatic), 19/29 mpg (AWD manual), 21/31 mpg (AWD automatic)
Turbocharged inline-4 + electric motor (330e plug-in hybrid)
248 horsepower (combined)
310 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30 mpg (combined city/highway)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 (M3)
425 horsepower @ 5,500-7,300 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 mpg (RWD manual), 17/24 mpg (RWD automatic)
For over 40 years, the BMW 3 Series has been the car that best demonstrated BMW’s long-running slogan, “the Ultimate Driving Machine.” In the 2018 BMW 3 Series sedan, the legend continues unabated albeit in a larger, more luxurious and more powerful version. The current 3 Series lineup competes head-on with the Audi A4, Infiniti Q50 and Cadillac ATS. Yet, as good as the competition is, none has ever been able to capture that perfect balance of luxury, performance, power and styling in quite the same way the 3 Series does. One thing that has changed is the range of models. For 2018, the Series now includes a plug-in hybrid, sporty wagon, versatile hatchback, and the incomparable 2018 BMW M3 high-performance sedan (reviewed separately).